John Dowland's Infinite Riches

Lots of interest in John Dowland, Sting et al, so it is worth revisiting the following article which was published On An Overgrown Path in May 2005: - Recent interesting exchanges online with Richard Friedman and Will Benton about the merits (or otherwise) of 'non-authentic interpretations' by the Hilliard Ensemble and Jan Garbarek with Officium (see Officium live - a triumph of music theatre) and Jacques Loussier (see Jacques Loussier close up) prompts me to sing the praises of a fascinating 'interpretation' of John Dowland's Lachrymae by the jazz pianist, 'envelope pusher', cellist, and accordion player Huw Warren (above). He is better known for his work with innovative jazz group Perfect Houseplants who have worked with violinist Andrew Manze, recorder player Pamela Thorby, and early music vocal ensemble the Orlando Consort.

The recording by Huw Warren I have returned to many times is Infinite Riches in a Little Room. (The title comes from Christopher Marlowe's The Jew of Malta Act 1). The CD is on the independent Babel label, and can be bought direct from them. In Infinite Riches Warren takes themes from Dowland's Lachrymae on piano, keyboards and samples and gives them treatments that vary from the 'lightly cooked' to more innovative. But in contrast to Uri Caine Warren knows when to stop, and has left his more indulgent excesses in the out-take bin, rather than padding out the finished commercial offering with them. Think the best bits of Caine's Goldberg Variations, without all those tracks you have to programme the CD player to skip. But make up your own mind and listen to some Huw Warren audio files at his MySpace site.

Since I wrote my original article Warren has won the 2005 BBC Jazz Award for Innovation, and his latest project is a major new work with his Orchestra Helclecs titled This is Now! (Nawr!) featuring the virtuoso guitarist John Parricelli, hip hop MC Nobsta Nutts, singer Lleuwen Steffan and an ensemble originally formed for a concert at Brecon jazz festival in 2004. If you want to hear a really innovative musician pushing the envelope with Dowland's music give Infinite Riches in a Little Room a spin.

For more on improvisation take A journey with Jack Reilly
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